landfill-free initiative gains steam
General Motors’ efforts to eliminate the shipment
of plant waste to landfills is spreading to its non-manufacturing
sites, 10 of which now reuse, recycle or convert to energy all
waste from normal operations.
“Our non-manufacturing facilities see the importance of being
waste-reduction leaders, and they know their customers value
it as well,” said John Bradburn, manager of GM’s waste-reduction
efforts. “Being landfill-free has become a point of pride for
our people and we hope even more facilities achieve the goal
Converting non-manufacturing facilities meant rethinking packaging
such as cardboard – a significant waste stream due to volume.
GM engineers work to create designs with recyclable attributes
intended for disassembly. Technical specifications that can be
followed on a global basis are being developed.
A landfill-free customer care and aftersales facility in Burton,
Michigan is using environmentally friendly, bio-based packaging
foam from supplier Landaal Packaging Systems that blocks and
braces products like sheet metal to ensure safe arrival. Made
from extruded cornstarch, the foam is both biodegradable and
At the same facility, a supplier helped GM engineers solve a
waste challenge with a patented technology that shears and separates
cardboard boxes attached to wood pallets. The separation is necessary
to manage each material with the least environmental impact and
gain significant financial value. The technology not only enabled
it to earn landfill-free status this year, but the facility now
generates $20,000 per month from recycling its cardboard.
“We believe GM has more landfill-free facilities than any other
automaker,” said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Environment,
Energy and Safety Policy. “Our engineers and suppliers are finding
ways to reduce challenging waste streams, eliminate scrap, and
design for the environment.”
The non-manufacturing facilities are in addition to GM’s 76 landfill-free
manufacturing facilities. The automaker remains focused on converting
more of its manufacturing plants, and has a goal of adding 10
facilities by the end of 2011. Last year, it surpassed a global
operations commitment to make half of its 145 plants landfill-free.
Manufacturing is at the company’s core, so converting plants
produces the largest environmental benefits.
In 2010, all of GM’s worldwide facilities combined – including
regular and landfill-free plants – recycled 92 percent of the
waste they generated.